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Finding The Right French Review Book

By Maria, published on 23/10/2019 Blog > Languages > French > The Best French Revision Books
If you have been studying French for a while, you are probably aware of its high complexity, so finding a review book that helps make sense of all the grammar rules and vocabulary is crucial.
Since French derives from the Romance languages and English from the Germanic languages, English speakers might have it a little tough when it comes to learning French. This doesn’t mean it is impossible but only that you will have to work a little harder on your French immersion by paying extra attention to French pronunciation and intonation.
Regardless, taking on a second language through private language lessons or online French courses can be very gratifying.
When trying to decide on a French revision book, it is important to take into consideration a couple of factors: What exam are you reviewing for? What is your level of fluency? And what portions of the language would you like to focus on?
Review books for high school french courses will focus on helping you ace the exam, while a normal french review book focuses more on teaching you the right French language skills for fluent conversations by teaching words and phrases.
Learning a foreign language can be easy if you have the right tools, so keep reading to see which review guide works best for you!

Best Review Books for High School Courses

If you are taking part in a high school language course for French, there is almost a 100% chance that you will be taking an exam at the end of the school year.
These exams serve as certification for your French language knowledge to show colleges. If you score well on these tests, your applications to uni will get a boost, and you might even be able to skip a language prerequisite with proof of these placement tests. 
 A college course can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred bucks to a thousand, so if you can exempt a couple of courses by doing well in your exams, it can actually save you cash in the future. All it takes is immersing yourself in la langue Française.

saving cash with french classes Acing the AP or IB exams can save you money in the future. (Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash)

The review book that will work best for you depends on what French language courses you are taking. If you participating in an Advanced Placement course, the official AP review books are the way to go.
Barron’s AP French Language and Culture Review book are one of the most recommended books. The guide includes a CD to help you practice the listing and comprehension portions of the exam since you will have to speak French on during the exam.
This book includes a comprehensive content review portion of all the material you will need to know in order to ace the AP exam.
In addition, the book has a great explanation of how the exam is structured and how to tackle each section of the test. This book also contains two full-length practice tests that correspond to previously asked questions in past years and are at the same level of difficulty as the actual exam.
5 Steps To A 5 for AP French is another option for the AP review books.  This book is one of the shorter review books, coming in at 267 pages. It is useful if you are looking for a course overview and have started to review a little later in the year.
The 5 Steps To A 5 also includes an mp3 file that helps with a more interactive style to help with listening comprehension.
One of the main reasons high schoolers chose this book is because of the price. Its content is similar to the more expensive options.
If you are taking an IB course, Oxford’s IB Skills and Practice book for the French B exam is one of the most recommended. The main goal of this book is to provide students with a step-by-step approach to practice the skills needed to excel in the IB exam.
The IB exam covers knowledge on the history of the French language and French culture so make sure you also review for that portion.
If you would like guidance in your review for these exams, Superprof has various language tutors that are specialized in helping students review for exactly these exams. Private French lessons can be just what you need to ace the next exam. You can focus on learning new words or practicing your conversational skills.

Best Review Books for the DELF Exam

The Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française or the DELF is the official language exam that demonstrates your French proficiency. It is internationally recognized and is used to obtain citizenship or residency in French-speaking countries.

french passport The DELF exam is used as the French proficiency exam for citizenship in some French-speaking countries. (Photo by Agus Dietrich on Unsplash)

There are six levels of French proficiency tested by this exam. They are the following:

  • A1 – Beginner
  • A2 – Upper beginner
  • B1 – Intermediate
  • B2 – Upper-intermediate
  • C1 – Advanced (DALF)
  • C2 – Mastery (DALF)
The Reussir Le Delf book is the best review book for the DELF exam as it is the official guide of the program. Make sure to pick up the book that corresponds to your proficiency level and the test that you will be taking.

Tips for Learning French

When you are revising French it is important to keep in mind that the way you think about French should be different than the way you think about English. Although there are some similarities in the languages, they also have various differences.
Most of the differences come from the fact that these languages come from different language families. While English comes from the Germanic branch, France is a Romance language.

French class notes Taking clear and concise notes during your language lessons is a great tip to learning any language. (Photo by David Travis on Unsplash)

Whether you are doing your language learning in school or with private lessons, make sure to keep the following in mind to make your road to fluency that much easier.
  1. Activate Your Passive Memory – immersing yourself with the language through French literature, radio, and movies will help you understand the language a lot faster than just sticking with your lessons. The more you begin to hear and read the correct conjugations and tenses more often you will be able to recall wording faster.
  2. Get Creative to Memorize Gender – with French you will need to learn the gender of each noun. Every time you learn a new noun make sure not just to understand the meaning but also learn what gender form is used for each noun. One way of remembering the gender is to write your nouns on different colored post-it notes or flashcards. Have blue flashcards for masculine words and pink flashcards for feminine words. This was when you think back on the word your mind will bring up the color of the card and which it’s written on and you will remember the gender automatically.
  3. Focus on Intonation intonation is the rise and all of your voice while speaking. When you speak in French pronouncing words in French it is important to keep in mind the intonation of your words. Native speakers will be able to understand you more if you use intonation, even if your pronunciation is not the best. In french, the stressed syllable in most words is the last one, in a descending tone. The stressed part of the sentence is always on the last syllable. If you are saying an affirmative sentence use a decreasing tone but if you are asking a question, end your phrase with an ascending tone. Always makes sure to stress the most important word in the sentence, this will help you get your point across a little better.
  4. Beware of Loan Words – the English language had loaned a lot of works from the French language but it does not necessarily mean that you can use them in the say way. Native English speakers need to be aware that these loan words can mean very different things in French.  To be safe, make sure to use French words, the way that you have been taught in class, rather than how you have heard them be used in English, they don’t always mean the same things.
  5. Learn Food Vocabulary – The French language and culture are heavily focused on food, so one of the best places to start with your French vocabulary lessons is to learn about food. It’s also one of the things you will need to know about the most if you ever visit France, you are gonna want to understand the menus. There are a couple of food-related words that are very similar in French and English:
    • Menu
    • Picnic
    • Restaurant
    • Chef
    • Alcool
    • Croissant
    • Baguette
    • Salade
    • Soupe
Arriving at a level of fluency in French can be easy if you follow the above tips, but even more, if you practice, practice, and practice. Go to French restaurants and bakeries if possible, or even better, find a friend that speaks the language ask them to help you practice.
Remember that there are many reasons for you to learn French, this international language can take you far. It is definitely worth all of your effort. You will be able to study abroad with ease, converse with French people, and even make friends with people in the Francophone world.
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